NEWS FROM NIRPC: NIRPC Starts off 2023 with Election of New Officers & Executive Board; Michael Griffin Receives Tufford Award

January 20, 2023

Portage, IN – The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) entered 2023 with the election of new officers and Executive Board members on Thursday and also bestowed its award for meritorious service to one of its former chairmen.

The Norman Tufford Award “for exceptional dedication and service to NIRPC” was presented to Michael Griffin, former Clerk-Treasurer of Highland for three decades and previously State Senator. Griffin served as Chair of the NIRPC Commission in both 2017 and 2020.

“The selection committee roundly endorsed Michael as an exemplary recipient of this award,” said Ty Warner, NIRPC’s Executive Director. “Michael has consistency demonstrated his commitment to regionalism and to helping NIRPC achieve its full potential as a regional planning body, bringing all communities in Northwest Indiana together to accomplish more than they can do on their own.”

John Swanson, NIRPC’s prior Executive Director (2004-2012) who served on the selection committee, agreed. “Michael Griffin has had an extraordinary record of public service to the Town of Highland, NIRPC and northwest Indiana,” he said. “In all his endeavors, whether with governmental bodies, non-profit or professional organizations or community groups, he has demonstrated the willingness to take on additional responsibilities and challenges. All of them have benefited greatly from his dedication, insightful thinking, and leadership skills.”

Norman Tufford was NIRPC’s first Executive Director of NIRPC, serving from 1966 to 1985. The award named in his honor recognizes NIRPC Commissioners and staff who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and service to the region.

Also at Thursday’s meeting was the annual election of NIRPC’s new officers and representatives on NIRPC’s Executive Board. Richard Hardaway, Town Council of Merrillville, was elected as NIRPC’s new Chairman for 2023, having served as Vice-Chair in 2022. Elected as Vice-Chair for 2023 was Tom Dermody, Mayor of La Porte. Sue Lynch, Mayor of Portage, was elected as Secretary, and Wendy Mis, Clerk-Treasurer of Munster, was elected NIRPC’s Treasurer.

Members elected to the Executive Board included Kyle Allen, Jr. (Lake County Commissioner) and Bill Emerson (Lake County Surveyor), representing Lake County; Justin Kiel (La Porte County Council) and Denise Ebert (Clerk-Treasurer, Wanatah), representing LaPorte County; and James Ton (Chesterton Town Council) and Kevin Breitzke (Porter County Surveyor), representing Porter County.

State Representative Jim Pressel (Indiana House of Representatives, 20th District) continues as the Governor’s Appointee to the Commission. Justin Kiel, former La Crosse Town Council President and now a La Porte County Council member, will serve as Immediate Past President.

Welcomed onto the Commission as newly-appointed representatives of their respective jurisdictions were Ellen Hundt, Beverly Shores; Jane Jordan, Burns Harbor; Barb Regnitz, Porter County Commission; Red Stone, Porter County Council; Justin Kiel, La Porte County Council; Connie Gramarossa, La Porte County Commission; and Regina Ruddell, Pottawattomie Park.

NIRPC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization and regional council of local governments for Northwest Indiana. NIRPC’s purpose, as put forth in Indiana state statute, is to “provide a coordinative management process for Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties and to institute and maintain a comprehensive planning and programming process for transportation, economic development, and environmental policy.”

From L to R: NIRPC Executive Director Ty Warner, Tufford Award Recipient Michael Griffing, Former NIRPC Executive Director John Swanson

Last modified: January 20, 2023